A convenience-store burglar was out cold when cops found him in the drop ceiling of a North Andover mini-mart in the morning, police said.

Investigators say they’re trying to figure out how Justin Roeger, 26, of North Andover, ended up unconscious and among the rafters of the Richdale Convenience Store, where cops found him about 12:40 a.m. while responding to a burglar alarm.

The front door was smashed, and police and the store owner were inspecting the premises for damages when investigators “observed an unconscious male inside the drop ceiling.”

Police at first feared Roeger had been electrocuted, so they called National Grid to cut the power. Firefighters and paramedics got him down and determined he was unhurt, “but had possibly passed out or fell asleep,” police said. He was taken to Lawrence General Hospital as a precaution.

Roeger had “assorted Lottery tickets” and is charged with larceny over $250, as well as breaking and entering during the nighttime and malicious damage to property.

Attorney Sam’s Take On Odd (Alleged) Criminal Behavior

Many people might look at this case like there is really no issue involved. After all, the Defendant was found in the building. The door was smashed in and the owner will testify that he had no right to be there. Assuming the air of viable witnesses to testify to those facts, as well as the rest of the surrounding facts, case closed. Right?

Not necessarily.

Strange cases like this usually give rise to another level of issues. In This case, I am reminded of a couple of cases that I have handled in recent times. In one case, the defendants had a mishap with medication and started imagining things which brought him to a strangers house. In another case, The defendant was under the influence of his favorite substance and believed that the building he broke into was his home.

“What difference would it make, Sam? If he was there, he was there!”

Well, it could make a very big difference. I am sure you have heard of cases where the defendant was found to be not guilty by reason of insanity. That can be a viable defense in such cases. This is particularly true with the first case that I mentioned. In the second case, there is an added twist.

Generally, voluntary intoxication is not a defense. This is why, and they drunk driving case, a defendant cannot simply say that she was so drunk that she did not understand the possible ramifications of getting behind the wheel. Generally, you can buy at your own risk. As always, of course, there are exceptions to this.

In the instant case, it is really too early to tell. After all, a regular same person could break into a store and, in the course of burglarizing, either pass out of fall asleep. What if the defendant had gotten stuck up in the rafters and finally simply fell asleep?

On the other hand, the reason the defendant was hidden in the rafters might be an interesting question in itself. Was he hiding from police? Did he simply believe he was Batman and had decided to take a nap?

The material he is charged with stealing is of interest as well. Lottery tickets. Perhaps the defense will be that he is an uncontrollable gambler who needed his “fix”?

In any event, the defendant, like all criminal defendants, should engage the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney. That defense attorney should be aware of the laws surrounding defenses like the insanity defense.

Do not be swayed by the unusual fact scenario of the case. The crimes which the defendant faces are serious crimes.

They need to be treated as such or else the defendant could end up behind bars for a very very long time.

Have a great, safe and law-abiding Valentine’s Day and weekend!

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